innovation skills training

Instructional Design and the Learner's Journey

“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.” – Herbert Spencer, Philosopher and Educator

I agree with this wholeheartedly; however, isn’t the learner’s journey worth a mention? Shouldn’t the learner also get something from the experience itself? When was the last time you experienced a training or learning event and felt like your brain cells were firing on all cylinders?

A keynote speaker at the Learning Solutions Conference 2023 talked about an essential tool in an educator’s toolbox as being the ability to ‘spark wonder’…to have them thinking:

  • What comes next?
  • I want to see more.
  • How might I use this?

Remember being a child and being so intrigued by what we encountered that we constantly asked ‘why’? We were curious, engaged, interested, and creative.

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Learning Objectives vs. Experience Objectives

Harnessing this sense of wonder in what we create and deliver to our learners goes beyond learning objectives and into experience objectives. How do we want learners to feel when learning?

How to spark wonder for the learner’s journey

Five ways to improve the training experience and enhance the learner’s journey

1Begin with a thought-provoking question

This question should encourage learners to think differently. For example, If your topic is innovation, ask, ‘Do you ever wonder why some birds can fly and others can’t?’ ‘What would happen if everyone agreed with everyone else all the time?’

2Tell a fascinating story related to the subject

 Stories create emotional connections to the subject and transport learners to consider how they would feel and how they would act in that story. 

educational journey experience objectives

3Share some surprising facts

Facts can challenge learners’ learned experiences and spark curiosity. ‘60% of people agree that being part of a strong team at work keeps them at their present job’, yet 50% believe in the phrase ‘if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.’ Why is that?

4Utilize hands-on activities

Allow learners to explore, experience, and discover tangible activities and outcomes.

5Celebrate wonder

Spark wonder by asking thought-provoking questions, celebrating moments of wonder and discovery, and encouraging learners to celebrate their ‘aha’ moments with the group. Ask questions like ‘What else does this make you think of?’ or ‘When was the last time you felt this way?’ or ‘How else could we use this?’ 

experience outcomes instructional design

The bottom line is that we are often so focused on having learners walk out of the course with the skills and knowledge to perform tasks that we often ignore opportunities to make the experience of learning more extraordinary.

We all appreciate when an experience sparks something in us: joy, happiness, excitement. As educators and instructional designers, we are undoubtedly well-positioned to spark wonder in those who dedicate (or are forced to spend) time learning.

Need help developing custom training solutions?

If you are looking to develop custom training solutions and improve your learner’s journey (and experience outcomes!), we can help. Contact us today.